Fishscale

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This article is about the hip-hop album. For the scales of fish, see Fish scale.
Fishscale
Studio album by Ghostface Killah
Released March 28, 2006
Genre Hip hop
Length 64:48
Label Def Jam
Producer MF DOOM, Pete Rock, J Dilla, Just Blaze, MoSS, Sean Cane & LV, Cool & Dre, Lewis Parker , Crack Val, Studio Steve, Xtreme
Ghostface Killah chronology
The Pretty Toney Album
(2004)
Fishscale
(2006)
More Fish
(2006)
Wu-Tang Clan solo chronology
GZA:
Grandmasters
(2005)
Fishscale
(2006)
Inspectah Deck:
The Resident Patient
(2006)
Singles from Fishscale
  1. "Back Like That"
    Released: February 28, 2006
  2. "Be Easy"
    Released: October 4, 2006

Fishscale is the fifth studio album by American rapper and Wu-Tang Clan member Ghostface Killah, released March 28, 2006 on Def Jam in the United States. The album features guest appearances from every member of the Wu-Tang Clan, as well as Ghostface Killah's Theodore Unit. It also features production from several acclaimed producers, such as MF Doom, Pete Rock, J Dilla, and Just Blaze, among others. The album follows an organized crime theme, and is named after a term for uncut cocaine, fishscale.

Fishscale sold nearly 110,000 units in its first week of release, and debuted at number four on the Billboard 200, and number two on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart, making it the highest charting Ghostface Killah album since his 1996 debut, Ironman.[1] The singles "Back Like That," and "Be Easy" entered the U.S. Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart, with the former peaking at the 14th position.[2] Upon its release, Fishscale received positive reviews from most music critics, with many applauding the album's cohesiveness, lyricism, and production. As of November 2009, the album had sold 332,000 copies.[3]

Background[edit]

In January 2006, a sampler was released containing full versions of "Be Easy," "Back Like That," and "Kilo," as well as shortened versions of "Big Girl" and "Charlie Brown". It also included an alternate version of "The Champ". "Charlie Brown," which was produced by MF DOOM, contained a sample from Caetano Veloso's "Alfomega" that did not ultimately receive clearance, and the song did not appear on the final album. Similarly, "The Champ" was not cleared and an altered version found its way on to the album.

J Dilla created his two productions for Ghostface, but also used them on his instrumental album Donuts; MF DOOM's productions are taken from his Special Herbs series of albums.

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 4.5/5 stars[4]
Robert Christgau A+[5]
Entertainment Weekly A−[6]
Los Angeles Times. 3.5/4 stars[7]
Pitchfork Media (9.0/10)[8]
Q 4/5 stars[9]
Rolling Stone 4/5 stars[10]
Spin (8/10)[11]
Stylus A−[12]
USA Today 4/4 stars[13]

Upon its release, Fishscale received universal acclaim from music critics. At Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the album received an average score of 88, based on 32 reviews.[14] Robert Christgau of The Village Voice called it a crack-trade "trend record that ranks with any Biggie or Wu CD". He found Ghostface Killah's stories to be as "vivid, brutal, and thought-out as any noir" and felt that the music features "a powerfully souled and sampled Clan-type groove" and a "screeching intensity" similar to Public Enemy's 1988 album It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back.[5] Writing for Entertainment Weekly, Raymond Fiore said that "he may not be reinventing himself with Fishscale, but as a must-hear street storyteller, Ghostface Killah's still at the top of his game."[6] Matt Barone from XXL wrote that, "with a few forced collaborations being its only flaw, Fishscale is Ghost’s most addictive dosage post Supreme Clientele. Packed with vivid street tales, comic relief and straight spittin’, the album continues his standard of excellence."[15]

Steve Jones from USA Today wrote that "Ghostface takes a timeworn hip-hop theme — dealing cocaine, and creates a riveting listening experience. He doesn't so much deliver rhymes as narrate graphically detailed scenes, rife with violence, passion and a little humor."[13] Allmusic writer Andy Kellman wrote in his review "...Ghost responds by pouring all that he has, both lyrically and vocally, into every track on the album. The scenarios he recounts are as detailed and off-the-wall as ever, elaborate screenplays laid out with a vocal style that's ceaselessly fluid and never abrasive."[4] In Q, Ted Kessler wrote, "Rappers rarely improve with age, but Wu-Tang Clan veteran Ghostface is the exception… Whether Ghostface's explaining how to cook crack on 'Kilo', how he likes his hair cut on 'Barbershop', or how he came to swim with 'SpongeBob in a Bentley Coupe' on 'Underwater', he remains rap's finest storyteller."[16] In his review for The A.V. Club, Nathan Rabin wrote:

"In contrast to his aggressive delivery on The Pretty Toney Album, Ghostface is far more relaxed, confident, and eclectic here. One of rap's most cinematic and sophisticated storytellers, he fills his pulp narratives with so much novelistic detail that it's impossible to catch everything on the first listen. Thankfully, the kaleidoscopic, soul-drenched production by Doom, Pete Rock, Jay Dee, Just Blaze, and others make repeat listens seem tempting, even downright irresistible. Sure, Fishscale has its share of pointless skits. But that's what the fast-forward button is for, just as the play button seems to have been designed specifically to let people listen to Fishscale over and over again."[17]

Accolades[edit]

Fishscale was ranked as one of the best albums of the year by many famous publishers.[18] It also appeared on several lists for best albums of the decade, with Stylus Magazine ranking it number eleven.[19] Uncut ranked it number 62 on their 150 Best Albums of the 2000s,[18] while Pitchfork Media ranked it number 75 on their Top 200 Albums of the 2000s, stating "History will remember Fishscale as Ghostface's Magical Mystery Tour: an artist convinced of his own genius empties every chamber on a batshit, pseudo-conceptual headtrip."[20] In 2009, Rhapsody ranked the album at number nine on its "Hip-Hop’s Best Albums of the Decade" list.[21]

Track listing[edit]

# Title Producer(s) Samples Time
1 "The Return of Clyde Smith" (Intro) 1:04
2 "Shakey Dog" Lewis Parker 3:44
3 "Kilo" (featuring Raekwon) MoSS
  • "Ten is the number - kilos" by George Greer & Jimmy Vann
4:00
4 "The Champ" Just Blaze
  • "Synthetic Substitution" by Melvin Bliss
4:09
5 "Major Operation" (Skit) 0:06
6 "9 Milli Bros." (featuring Wu-Tang Clan) MF DOOM 4:14
7 "Beauty Jackson" J Dilla 1:32
8 "Heart Street Directions" (Skit) 0:54
9 "Columbus Exchange" (Skit) / "Crack Spot" Crack Val 2:21
10 "R.A.G.U." (featuring Raekwon) Pete Rock 2:39
11 "Bad Mouth Kid" (Skit) 1:10
12 "Whip You With a Strap" J Dilla 2:51
13 "Back Like That" (featuring Ne-Yo) Xtreme 4:02
14 "Be Easy" (featuring Trife) Pete Rock 3:19
15 "Clipse of Doom" (featuring Trife) MF DOOM 3:09
16 "Jellyfish" (featuring Cappadonna, Shawn Wigs, & Trife) MF DOOM 3:50
17 "Dogs of War" (featuring Raekwon, Cappadonna, Sun God & Trife) Pete Rock 4:04
18 "Barbershop" Studio Steve 1:56
19 "Ms. Sweetwater" (Skit) 0:14
20 "Big Girl" Ghostface Killah 3:35
21 "Underwater" MF DOOM
  • Paul Horn Song
  • "Orange Blossoms" by MF DOOM
2:03
22 "The Ironman Takeover" (Skit) 0:05
23 "Momma" (featuring Megan Rochell) Sean C & LV 4:49
24* "Three Bricks" (featuring The Notorious B.I.G., & Raekwon) Cool & Dre co-produced by Sean "Diddy" Combs
  • "Niggas Bleed" by The Notorious B.I.G.
  • "Somebody's Gotta Die" by The Notorious B.I.G.
4:58
  • * Signifies bonus material

Personnel[edit]

Charts[edit]

Chart Position[22]
Billboard 200 4
Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums 2

References[edit]

  1. ^ Katie Hasty, "T.I. Rules As 'King' Of Album Chart", Billboard.com, April 5, 2006.
  2. ^ Artist chart history for Ghostface Killah (singles), Billboard.com.
  3. ^ Def Jam's Entire Rap Discography & Their Record Sales. XXL.
  4. ^ a b Kellman, Andy. Review: Fishscale. Allmusic. Retrieved on 2010-01-24.
  5. ^ a b Christgau, Robert (May 2, 2006). "Consumer Guide: Dear Mr. President". The Village Voice (New York). Retrieved May 13, 2013. 
  6. ^ a b Fiore, Raymond. Review: Fishscale. Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved on 2010-01-24.
  7. ^ Baker, Soren. Review: Fishscale (Database requires subscription to view full review). Los Angeles Times. Retrieved on 2010-12-06.
  8. ^ Dombal, Ryan. Review: Fishscale. Pitchfork Media. Retrieved on 2010-01-24.
  9. ^ Q, June 2006
  10. ^ Columnist. Review snipets: Fishscale. mymusic.com. Retrieved on 2010-08-16.
  11. ^ Shepherd, Julianne. Review: Fishscale. Spin. Retrieved on 2010-12-06.
  12. ^ McGarvey, Evan. Review: Fishscale. Stylus Magazine. Retrieved on 2010-01-24.
  13. ^ a b Jones, Steve. Review: Fishscale. USA Today. Retrieved on 2010-01-24.
  14. ^ Ghostface Killah: Fishscale (2006): Reviews
  15. ^ Barone, Matt. Review: Fishscale. XXL. Retrieved on 2010-01-24.
  16. ^ Q, June 2006
  17. ^ Rabin, Nathan. Review: Fishscale. The A.V. Club. Retrieved on 2010-01-24.
  18. ^ a b Fishscale Accolades. acclaimedmusic.net. Retrieved 2010-08-16.
  19. ^ The Stylus Decade Top Albums. Stylus Magazine. Retrieved 2010-08-16.
  20. ^ The Top 200 Albums of the 2000s: 100-51. Pitchfork Media. September 30, 2009.
  21. ^ "Hip-Hop’s Best Albums of the Decade" Retrieved 12 January 2010.
  22. ^ Fishscale Chart Positions. Allmusic. Retrieved 2010-08-16.

External links[edit]